Packers refuse to concede division race, top Vikings 30-13
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Vikings took the ball at Green Bay's 42-yard line after a short punt by the Packers late in the second quarter, poised to forge a tie or take the lead before halftime of this pivotal NFC North game.
The first-down handoff went to Adrian Peterson, and Clay Matthews came to meet him for a 3-yard loss. Coolly climbing to his feet, Matthews waved his right index finger back and forth to signal the stymie, a symbolic gesture for the entire game.
The Packers clearly weren't ready to concede this division they've won four straight times. The Vikings squandered a prime opportunity to take control of the race.
Aaron Rodgers threw two touchdown passes without a turnover, Datone Jones had two of Green Bay's six sacks and Eddie Lacy contributed a season-high 100 yards in a 30-13 victory over Minnesota on Sunday that stopped a three-game losing streak.
''People wanted to throw us in the garbage after the last three weeks. Everybody knows what we have in this locker room,'' said James Jones, who had six catches for 109 yards as the Packers (7-3) got their 10th win over the Vikings in the last 11 games with Rodgers at quarterback.
From Lacy to Jones to the two-time NFL MVP Rodgers, the previously underperforming Packers bounced back in a big way to post the highest score against the Vikings this season.
''I think sometimes we play a little better when we start to get questioned,'' said Rodgers, who was a ho-hum 16 for 34 for 212 yards but brilliant when he needed to be on third-down scoring passes to Jones and Randall Cobb.
The Vikings (7-3) had a five-game winning streak shoved back in their face by this proud Packers team that was determined to re-establish a running game behind Lacy and James Starks after Rodgers attempted a career-high 61 passes last week in an ugly 18-16 loss at home to Detroit.
''I thank my teammates for believing in me even when I had those bad games and wasn't playing up to my standards,'' Lacy said.
Here are some key angles to know about the game:
PETERSON CONTAINED: Peterson was held to 45 yards on 13 carries with one touchdown. He lost a fumble at the Packers 21 early in the fourth quarter to punctuate an uncharacteristically quiet game against Green Bay.
''We were kind of pressing a little bit. The opportunities were slim, and we just couldn't get going for whatever reason,'' Peterson said.
MASON'S MAKES: After shanking a 52-yard try on the game's final play last week that would have given Green Bay the win, Mason Crosby bounced back by making all five of his field-goal attempts, all from 40-plus yards. Rodgers repeatedly praised Crosby during his postgame remarks to reporters, calling him the best kicker in the league.
''I went back and watched film, cleared my mind, did what I do every week and worked really hard to make sure I could have a game like this and help us win,'' said Crosby, who is 24 for 24 on extra points and 17 for 19 on field goals this season.
BATTERED BRIDGEWATER: Teddy Bridgewater took quite a beating, leaving the game briefly with an injury to his left shoulder in the second quarter but still finishing 25 for 37 for 296 yards and a touchdown without any turnovers. The pass rush by the Packers was the story, though. The left side of the offensive line was called for four penalties in the first half, two holdings and a false start on tackle Matt Kalil and a holding on guard Brandon Fusco.
''They hadn't sacked the quarterback in the past three games that they've lost, so we knew that that was going to be one of the points of emphasis, that those guys are fired up,'' Bridgewater said. ''And we know that when they're getting to the quarterback, that's when they're playing their best football.''
COSTLY CALL: The Packers used a 50-yard pass interference penalty on Terence Newman, who was covering Jeff Janis on third-and-15 from the 15, to set up the 10-yard touchdown toss by Rodgers to Cobb with 10 seconds left in the first half. An illegal contact call on Anthony Barr during a third-down incompletion gave Rodgers yet another opportunity on that defining drive.
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